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Japan, South Korea urge ‘maximum pressure’ on North Korea

(AFP) – Senior officials from Japan and South Korea have reiterated the need for maintaining a regime of sanctions and restrictions on North Korea to force Pyongyang to address concerns about its missile and nuclear programs.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon agreed on Monday to maintain “maximum pressure” on North Korea amid reports of a softening of approach to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

“Japan and South Korea agreed we will continue to apply maximum pressure on North Korea until it results in concrete action,” Kono told reporters after a meeting with Suh.

The Japanese diplomat would not elaborate on what his country and South Korea, both allies of the US, expected as concrete action from the government in Pyongyang.

Kono also declined to comment on a possible softening of position from Tokyo amid reports of a potential thaw in relations between the North and the United States.

Washington has announced that President Donald Trump would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by the end of May following a meeting between Kim and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in in late April.

Pyongyang has yet to officially comment on the proposed meetings.

Trump almost immediately agreed to meet with Kim without only hours after being briefed by the South Korean officials, who visited Pyongyang last week, in Washington on Thursday. He even took to Twitter the following day writing that a deal with Pyongyang was “very much in the making.”

Kono said if North Korea agreed to an inspection of its nuclear facilities, Tokyo would provide the International Atomic Energy Agency with the required budget. He also said his country would remain in close contact with the US and South Korea over the issue of Japanese citizens who have been abducted by the North in the past.

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